Commentary about Female Heroes’ Costumes (part 2)

So in Part 1 of this rant I touched on the fact that I like showing off my body. I do. I really do. And you can tell me “society told me I needed to” I don’t actually care. I like make up, I like tight clothes, I like looking good. So I sympathized when I Setsu Oh raving about Lara Croft’s recent breast reduction, People jumped in from left and right about how it’s more “realistic” and less “hypersexualized” as if DD cups don’t exist in the wild. @SetsuOh also went on to say that big breasted women are usually touted as bimbos, so a well endowed PhD and survival skills? Bad ass and out of the normal stereotype.

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But I think this is a situation where either way there’s something to complain about. But asserting that big breasted women can’t be Indiana Jones because it’s not realistic is fucking stupid.

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Which leads me to my next point. Of women who show off their bodies, the more endowed: the higher the chance it will somehow be labelled as vulgar. Because having a female body is vulgar. No, I don’t believe that, but it seems to be the consensus among most of humanity. 

What do I mean?

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This image was posted along with an article about cosplayers hypersexualizing characters. I agreed with some points… BUT the accompanying text for this reads, “I mean, really? REALLY? If I had kids with me at this convention, I would actually be pretty pissed off as a parent.” And I just have a question: I mean these kids will, at some point, go to a beach or pool, am I right?” She’s wearing slightly more than you average bikini. And yet it’s easy to look and say “SLUT” isn’t it? I have news… That’s not her fault. That’s everyone else’s fault for buying into the hype that if a girl shows off her body then she’s a bimbo and a slut and not worthy of respect. (The post is here, and I agreed with everything up until that point)

Actually, I found this article about MJ’s sexualization over the years. It’s fascinating. It’s also fascinating that photos of Kirsten Dunst from the films were included based only on the fact that she has nipples. 

And on cosplay in general “By wearing their likeness, you are allowing all that the character has come to represent. By emphasizing your own body in the costume that you yourself have created or paid for, you are granting another the right to utilize your form first as approval for continued actions and for generating the idea that women both appreciate and prefer to be cast in this light.” From the post Cosplay and the Female Form and I always feel a little betrayed when those who include themselves as “geeks” and “feminists” say something that is so dubious. Maybe this statement seems innocuous to you, so I’ll explain my position: I like to look good. I like when men look good, too.

So what? It is, in fact, certain individuals claiming feminism who say that women cannot both be beautiful and clever, sexy and strong, pretty and courageous. 

I’m all set.

But with that in mind, I think that the costume should fit the character. Lady Sif should not show up in a chainmail bikini… But you know what, Sonja doesn’t have to go full armor either. I actually think that MJ Watson costume is really dumb, I just don’t find it offensive. I don’t find Kirsten Dunst having nipples to be sexualization, I don’t need other women to tell me what to wear so I can properly represent my gender. No one has to do that.

Don’t understand? I’m assuming we all have Netflix at this point, watch the 30 Rock episode “TGS Hates Women” with guest star Sarah Silverman. She’s hired on and comes in looking like a “sexy baby” and Liz Lemon goes to council her on how she’s too girly for the Girly Show, Tina Fey whose character Liz Lemon became a feminist icon for holding a high profile job and being “real bodied” and too lazy for sex and wanting to eat junk food immediately hates on Sarah’s character for not being like her.

Right after this Sarah lays the smackdown. There’s not clip on youtube, you’ll just have to watch it. You should anyway.

But some images are more ridiculous than others:

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Princeless #3 + a commentary about female heroes’ costumes

Princess Adrienne is trying to find her sister. She’s now being pursued by the king’s guards. She stops at a local blacksmith and meets the string bean, pixie cut rocking, Bedelia is the real craftsman behind the armor. Adrienne finds that Bedelia only has a selection for women based on- well, what we’ve seen in the media for women warriors. 

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So we’ve got the Red Sonja get up

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which was recently addressed in Legends of Red Sonja #3 as a method of distraction. As in the mens will be distracted by your curves. As someone who loves Red Sonja, I also think there’s some level of cockiness that shows through that get-up, not just about her curves, but as a “yeah right, you’re not going to make it within a stone’s throw from me anyway.” Sonja’s also presented as a very sexual being and being flashy is her thing.

As is true with Xena.

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Her get up is not too gaudy, protective leather and minimal armor plating is not unreasonable for a traveller who can’t be weighted down. Besides, her male contemporary, Hercules, walked around with no armor and his shirt open all the time. Like Sonja, she is a grown woman who hooks up with Gods (for Sonja, recently a forest god, for Xena it was Aries).

I’m not innately anti-sexy-costumes. In fact, here’s a picture of me at Rhode Island Comic-Con rocking some spandex. (With Rory and Amy and fellow Radio Of Horror host dressed as Indiana Jones)

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I like showing off my body, and I’m a grown woman and I do what I want.

But this bugs me out:

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Batman and Superman look gruff and …like adults. Diana looks maybe 16, like she has an E cup, no rib cage and is wearing undies. The men are big and huge and Wonder Woman has zero muscle definition. That’s absurd. But mainly, what I’m mad about is the infantilization. Say it with me, Wonder WOMAN. It’s also absurdly out of character. In Justice League War Wonder Woman’s costume was skin tight, under scrutiny by anti-supes she says that her outfit makes her feel powerful. And there’s nothing wrong with showing off what you’ve got. Of course her JL War costume is “modest” compared to the photo above:

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And there’s a duality where woman are made to feel vulgar for liking to show themselves off while being bombarded with sexy women. sexy women are presented as fierce and confident, but is “The Sexy Woman” really empowered?

Back in the comic, Princess Adrienne runs around dressed as the Amazonian and experiences street harassment and learns how to work a lasso. Bedelia finishes up her armor and its spectacular. 

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For those of us Fiercely missing Agents of SHIELD

14 long long days until a new episode, TAHITI , where Coulson finds out more about his past and presumably saves Skye. Bill Paxton guest stars on that one, as does BJ Britt (who has guest starred on Vampire Diaries, Grimm and Sons of Anarchy as well as the Wonder Woman TV movie and the flick Vampires Suck).

Of course, you probably don’t care as much about those guest stars as you do about the March 11th episode that features Lady Sif. Jaimie Alexander appears as the awesomely armor-clad Asgaardian in the (hopefully season and not series) finale “Yes Men”

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It’s these kind of nerd cookies and side characters and tie-ins to the Marvel Universe that have really been keeping fans entertained. An IGN blogger compiled a list of who they would like to see make a cameo to keep the hype going. I agree, either She-Hulk would be optimal -but Jennifer Walters is a small time character *snort* please. But it seems like everyone from Jezebel to Stan Lee himself has ideas on how to fix the show and keep viewers excited. Is Jaimie Alexander’s appearance getting you hyped? Anyone you’d like to see hit the SHIELD set?

The series debuted with record numbers, but since 6 million less have tuned in.

No news of being officially canceled or renewed yet. But as a belated Valentine’s Day gift: A look at Skye’s -I mean Chloe Wang’s -I mean, Chloe Bennet’s music career debut.

I’m optimistic about where they could go with SHIELD, who they could bring in and how they will use who they’ve got. The second half of the season has brought depth to Agent May’s no-nonsense persona, Skye’s backstory plotline has wrapped itself up and now we have established characters working through their quirks without relying heavily on being cliche archetypes -everyone’s stretching out of their established comfort zone. And that’s good.

James Bond is a Product of his Environment AKA In Defense of “Skyfall”

This has been stewing in my brain juices for nearly a week now. I marathoned the Blonde Bond films and then thought hard about what it all meant. Especially Skyfall. I had read deconstructions of the tropes long before I saw the film.

Oh and they are there.

The opening scenes have Bond and another agent (later revealed to be Eve Moneypenny) shooting Bond instead of the enemy and getting shelved from field work. Apparently killing the legendary 007 is a career ender. And then she flirts with him in some absolutely baffling shaving scene.

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I have no excuse for THAT. Honestly. And Moneypenny was taken out of the field because it was M. who ordered the shot be taken even though she said it was too risky, and no way was M. going down for that shit, let’s face it. Power structures in play, Moneypenny took the fall.

But in a later scene at a casino Moneypenny backs up Bond, and he trusts her to. He heard M. tell her to “just take the shot” and he rightfully blames M., Moneypenny subsequently saves him from getting his head blown off or falling back into a pit with komodo dragons. I do wish she had played a larger role, but let’s face it; This is a JAMES BOND film, and James Bond is all about wish fulfillment nonsense, so if a female is going to save his punk ass she’ll have to do it with an evening gown on and probably have to nonsensically flirt and stroke his ego. Because that shit’s his bread and butter.

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Speaking of “flirting”; let’s get to former MI-6 agent turned villain Raoul Silva. Now we’ve seen Bond tortured in all sorts of ways over the years. Usually it was the brute-force or dead-girl-covered-in-substance-associated-with-the-villain route. This time we saw Bond threatened with sexual assault at the hands of a presumably gay man. Yes I said ‘presumably’.And YES I think it was intentionally playing up fears of homophobes who see Bond as the alpha-male, writer John Logan said he chose sexual intimidation because it would make the audience uncomfortable (citation) …And why would it make the -general- audience uncomfortable? ..because we never see that shit happen to men on film… we see it happen to women. All the damn time. Hell, in the same film a woman who was sold into the sex trade- and Silva shot her right in the head after Bond raped her in the shower (yes, I said raped, she couldn’t see him before he came up behind her, she didn’t know he was on the boat, she did not consent). We aren’t made to feel bad for her, it’s not played that way. So it’s thought provoking when Bond is touched this way against his will. And it doesn’t actually matter that/if Silva is gay. Because rape and sexual assault isn’t about attraction, it’s about power and control. There’s no two ways around that one. If it was attraction that caused rape it would be the victim’s fault for being so damn sexy. The aggressor is out to prove that they have the upper hand, this happens in staggering numbers during combat, among prisoners and even internally in the military among males. So when Bond says, “What makes you think it’s my first time?” it would likely be true.

What’s really of particular relevance to me is that Silva taunts him equally with the fact that James is completely not suitable for duty. He was told he passed the firearms test, he got 40%. He failed all the physical tests, fuck- he failed all the psychological tests. He’s dependent on booze and pills. It’s the truth. The glaring ugly truth that he is only even there because of the uneven power structures that lead to Silva leaving MI-6 and Moneypenny being shelved.

“So what does that matter?” I can hear you thinking it. “Bond is benefitting from all this privilege. He’s the action hero who always gets the girl. He’s the hero in this story!” Right?

Well… no.

At the beginning of the film, after he’s shot by Moneypenny he tries to enjoy his “death.” On a beach with a girl, having a drinking contest with people cheering. Spring Break! But when he sees the attack on MI-6 he *has to go back* because he’s been told the whole time that he’s the frigging best and has this whole savior complex about M. and England in general. And, just like in the last pages of PrinceLESS #1 where a young boy content to play in the mud is scooped up and taken to a special school to be a Prince Charming -subsequently being charred by a dragon while trying to prove himself to the ideal of chivalry which he’s been taught… society’s institutionalized gender roles are bullshit for everyone. Bond can’t kick back and retire because he’s been told he was optimal his whole life -told that he was meant to be there, that he has no life other than MI-6.

And YES I just went there with “oh the poor straight cis white males.” And yes I understand how much of a struggle it is to be told that you don’t belong there, to have to fight tooth and nail to make 88 cents on the dollar -or worse. And it’s a different issue, but not a separate one. Women face challenges in the corporate world, men face discrimination if they to a majority of the parenting and stats are showing that men face more issues returning to work than women do because it’s not expected so it is not accepted. Men are taught that their professional accomplishments are a major portion of their identity.

So who is Bond if he’s not MI-6?

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A pathetic womanizing drunk who used to be somebody.

Alternate opinions:

James Bond is a Creep Who Makes Me Sad About Our Culture

Skyfall is HOMOPHOBIC

Oh, Bonus Content:

John Travolta wants to be the next Bond villain

And a photo of first trans Bond-girl

who appeared in 1981's 'For Your Eyes Only' starring Roger Moore.

who appeared in 1981’s ‘For Your Eyes Only’ starring Roger Moore.

Fantastic Female Friday- Camille Montes (Quantum of Solace)

I know a ton of blogs do this sort of thing. Jack Flacco has “Women who Wow Wednesday” Kiss My WonderWoman has “Strong Female Character Friday” but I decided I wanted in on the action, a weekly post to celebrate overlooked or out of genre characters that I wouldn’t usually blog about.

For our first episode: Quantum of Solace Bond Girl Camille Montes 

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Her path crosses with that of 007 while he is trying to get revenge on those responsible for the death of Vesper Lynd and she’s on a personal mission to avenge her family. For his part he’s blood thirsty and out of control, he kills someone sent to kill Camille and almost catches a bullet from her gun in return. Camille had been shacking up with Dominic Greene to get closer to her target former head of the Bolivian army, General Medrano. Greene finds her out and serves her up to him. But she’s got a secret weapon. This is unbeknownst to Bond who rides in on his high horse to save her and she gets mad and fights him, he over powers her and “saves” her. He even “saves” her again later (at a party where Dominic threatens to throw her off a balcony after she drunkenly swaggers over to investors and tells them in no uncertain terms that Dominic is a con artist) and Bond earns a big eyeroll as a thank you. She makes it clear he’s a pain in the ass.

Later, after they crash land in the desert, falling into a sinkhole (surviving because she grabbed the parachute, mind you) she spills her guts about why she was on the boat with Medrano. Says she had been waiting 20 years for that shot. He apologizes. She doesn’t accept. But when they get back to the hotel and M has Bond captured for disobeying orders she double backs to extract him. And together, sans resources they go after Dominic Greene, Quantum, et al.

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After take 2 with her target (who was ready to victimize another woman) in which she fights with all she’s got to take him out, biting kicking and clawing her way to victory. Bond does eventually get to be her hero, blasting a hole in the wall and saving her from a burning room.

She asks him if she’ll be different. If she’ll sleep better. He tells her the truth, probably not. She’s sweet to him, knowing he’s afflicted with the same thirst for vengeance. He kisses her… she’s not that into it and he leaves her all dirty and badass back in town. She doesn’t need him to tell her it’ll be alright, Hell, she doesn’t really even need it to be alright. She just moves on.

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No sleeping together, no shower scene, but to keep it 007 they had to throw in Agent Strawberry Fields to get sexed up and fridged because Camille was too damn unstoppable. Camille and Bond save each other and then she leaves to figure out what to do with a life that’s her own, not fueled by rage.

For the role actress Olga Kurylenko did her own stunts in the Bond film to boast the most violent incidents (250) and was pumped not to be playing a love interest.

Now, this is about a character, not the entire movie or the opinions of casting directors, actors or producers. Which would be irresponsible for me not to elaborate: are flat out terrible. The actress who plays Camille is Ukrainian, apparently they had intended to cast a South American actress but we’re blown away by her performance and noted her confidence as a deciding factor- of this point there is no argument she’s disarmingly assured. However her decision to “tan for two days to look more Bolivian” was encouraged by producers, she also worked with a dialect coach who left her sounding like she had a mouth full of marbles. Instead of “brown-facing,” the nationality of the character could have been left vague, or not since there are white people in South America -it was settled by white Europeans who spread the Spanish language.Or they could have found another actress who actually suited their desires instead of encouraging Kurylenko to alter her look and play on stereotypes in a vain attempt and fitting the character’s ethnicity. Historically, this happens A LOT and everyone should know better and stop being so damn naive and ignorant

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Steven Moffat

Yesterday I watched the 6 episode season of 2007’s BBC TV series “Jekyll” And found myself thinking and thinking about what the hell is up with Steven Moffat.

Now, Steven Moffat; known for writing “Sherlock” and  “Doctor Who” is frequently criticized with how he writes women. From the girl who waits Amy Pond (although it is worth noting that Rory also waited for Amy) and River Song a seemingly badass archaeologist who we find out revolves solely around the doctor to the waffling behaviour of Irene Adler in “Sherlock” to reimagining history in the recent 50th anniversary of Doctor Who special with Queen Elizabeth I. You can read a really rad rundown here.

He also says stupid, shallow and misogynist things. Repeatedly.

In Jekyll we have Dr. Jackman (who we never see doing any “doctor” things, but who had worked for biotech company Klein and Utterman before Hyde started taking over) who at first appears to have a split personality with the alternate personality having severe violent tendencies. But then it’s more than that: there’s a physical change. But then it’s more than THAT: Hyde is actually the next step in human evolution.

And being the next step in human evolution: People rally around to get a piece of him.
But not just that: they exist solely to facilitate bringing around Hyde.

Uh huh.

The real catch is that no one was really sure if Hyde will exist at all even though they have committed their lives to it and unsurprisingly, since it is Moffat, most of these people were women.

When Jackman starts losing control of Hyde he separates himself from his wife, Claire, and their two children without explanation. He locks himself up and hires a psychiatric nurse. Through a series of events Dr. Jackman finds out that Jekyll and Hyde wasn’t a work of fiction but a fictionalized account of real events. He begins to think he is a descendant of Dr. Jekyll (but Dr. Jekyll had no children… which is repeated so many times that I was left ready to scream “Hyde had children, you twits!”) but instead they somehow come up with Dr. Jackman must be a clone.

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All the while: Claire stands up to Hyde. Albeit for some very “faithful wife” and very “maternal” reasons. She’s mad at Jackman for keeping his condition a secret from her. She worries for her children above all. We never see any of her personality outside of this except for a flashback when she first meets Jackman and is so funny and weird (and cool). But anyway, she is sassy and unafraid. She slugs Hyde with a wine bottle and chains him up. And later, she tries to rescue him: because Hyde is her husband, too. While that last part might make your eyes roll, or not, I don’t know, and the amount of time she yells “my husband” or “my children” was cringeworthy… it was still kind of okay… until…

They find out that there was never any potion… that it was “a girl” that brought it on. Then they find out that his wife, Claire, is actually a clone of Dr. Jekyll’s maid.

Cloned by Klein and Utterman strictly for bringing out Hyde in the modern Dr. Jackman.

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Claire’s entire reason for existence is to fall in love with the drab Dr. Jackman and bring out Mr. Hyde.

Huh.

Katherine, the psychiatric nurse that Jackman hires also turns out to be working for someone else. So her adult life is also revolving around Jackman-Hyde. She also inexplicably has a crush on Jackman.
But I can’t even chalk (well… all) this up to Moffat’s incredibly archaic views on women.

Longtime friend Peter Syme’s life revolves around keeping tabs on Jackman. It’s the whole reason they are friends. For decades.

So the question I would really like to pose: While, mind you, I am not arguing that Moffat doesn’t see women as fragile discounted versions of men; Is Moffat just plain incapable of writing any characters that don’t just orbit around the MC? 

It happened in “Doctor Who” repeatedly: Clara “the girl who would save the doctor” and Amy Pond who wasted her childhood staring at a crack in the wall, and Rory as “the last Centurion” and River Song.

It happens in Sherlock. Let’s face it, this needs no explanation.

It happens in Jekyll. With every other character. Including the two PI’s who would have been more awesome if they just cashed their paychecks and left. Why would they continue to help Jackman 1) not knowing him previously 2)knowing that he could turn into a violent and powerful being at a moments notice 3) knowing that huge government agencies would stop at nothing to obtain him?

While assembling my thoughts I also read this article that discusses Moffat’s inability to have his characters deal with loss and grief. This also happens in “Jekyll” where we get to the end. Every one who the audience cares about is okay. Even Tom Jackman… and probably even Hyde. 

(and then his mother turns out to be the descendant of Hyde?! But then who brings Hyde out in her if they needed to clone the maid? what sense can that make?!)

“Blog Carnival” Post: Stereotypes & Monstrous Metaphors

I’ve talked before about those misogynist werewolf societies, which could be of relevant interest. But today: Today, my friends, I would like to talk to you about the zombie apocalypse. Or rather, how the outbreak of zombie survivalism relates to the American Dream.

The horror genre has always been an outlet for expressing society’s concerns and fears. While Zombie’s have been huge since Steppenwolf’s heyday, It’s undeniable that the zombie genre and dystopia in general has become freaking huge lately.

Zombies, the faceless hungry mob themselves, and their reasons for shambling have changed immesely since 1968.

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In the classic Night of the Living Dead, zombies rise as a result of crashed space junk. Specifically a radioactive satellite that crashes unexpectedly after a mission to Venus and the corpses of the recently deceased rise to their feet in search of human flesh. With an abundance of nuclear testing during that time period:

The Cold War and Space Race in recent memory, Americans didn’t know who to trust. Overwhelmed by the sheer number of zombies, our survivors hole up in a good American farmhouse to make their last stand. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) and the 2004 remake saw survivors and zombies alike flocking to the mall in a dig at consumerism and capitalism. Concern over limited resources, class divide and American’s working day in and day out on autopilot to buy… things.

More recently, zombies don’t crawl out of their crypts. They’re living humans infected by rampant viruses and contagions that turn rational people into drooling, spitting and primal corpse munchers. Because these are our fears. Nuclear testing has brought forth no reanimated corpses. We made peace with our consumerism. But viral outbreaks, new illnesses, fear of vaccines and GMOs? That’s right on the money.

The Newsflesh trilogy saw a “zombie virus” amplified in previously healthy humans after well intentioned do-gooders douse the population with a vaccine that when mixed with another common treatment went seriously awry. The Dire Earth series has zombies created by aliens, which is a rarity and harkens back to Romero’s original. But in both these book franchises, zombies (or subhumans) are facts of life, some run, some crawl, some shamble. Recent dead are more human in movement and quickly degrade.

28 Day Later brought fast zombies to the forefront way back in 2002, and the fast zombie train keeps speeding along with 2012′s World War Z. 2009’s Zombieland, zombies in the gamerworld: ZombieU and the Left 4 Dead franchise, hell: Plant versus Zombies: the “walking dead” will run after you, Marvel Zombies had running, fighting suped up zombies. A critique of the fact that we don’t even have time to wait for zombies to come get us? I’m sorry I’m too busy, I can’t wait for you to shamble on over here. And in response, the zombie genre evolves and they will come get your brains!

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Zombies always have stood for the fear of being condemned to being part of a starving faceless mob, or being part of a hoarde with no autonomy for yourself any longer. More often than not the government is useless, selfish or behind it all. Another scathing jab at the state of affairs. With unemployment up, a major divide between classes and overall distrust of mainstream media and world leaders it’s not surprising we have seen a resurgence in this genre.

World War Z, the most recent zombie flick I’ve seen treats Gerry as special, but casts out his family after they think he is dead because the UN only has resources “for essential personnel” and with Gerry perceived incapacitated, they have no reason to care for his family any longer (in a poignant snark about how we treat families of veterans, or veterans themselves when they are deemed unnecessary, unworthy or whenever they are done with them). But it is clear beyond clear the Gerry has special privilege, (soldiers jump in front of teeth and bullets for him) that isn’t touched on in zombie flicks that follow non governmental employees:

Class divide affects people in all sorts of ways. People are afraid of being poor, afraid of being faceless and unable to control themselves (zombies), people who fancy themselves working or middle class are concerned about the ubiquitous “other” trying to come and take what is there’s (zombies AND other humans fighting for a space to call their own). Modern life as a battlefield for resources, for safety. Fortune favors the prepared and the resourceful. Zombies don’t care about what you last name is or if your jeans (or genes) are designer. And we know that you can’t trust “them” no matter what that means this decade. Unlike other horror movie creeps, ghosts, vamps, ghouls, wolves: zombies have no power, no goals beyond shambling and eating. No one wants to be a zombie. Survivors: If you work hard, you can rebuild, you can survive. And really isn’t that the American Dream?